As mentioned in my previous post about hanami (complete with origami cherry blossom tutorial), I wanted to recreate a cherry blossom viewing picnic scene that’s very common in Japan right now.
I decided to use a variety of cute sakura kirigami/origami to create a peaceful hanami atmosphere, then I added some common hanami staples like a cute plastic ground sheet (used as a tablecloth), cherry blossom chopsticks, onigiri (rice balls), noodles, grilled fish, sweet snacks, and the last but not least, beer and wine.
To stay on theme, I also used my felt cherry blossom coasters, kirigami cutout sakura placemats, sakura printed placemats, and a couple of mizuhiki sakura that I made a few years ago.
Please let me know what you think! I’d love to hear suggestions for future picnic setups!
Before I show you the complete hanami lunch setup, I want to show you some of the adorable bento accessories that I have straight from Japan (you can also find some through Amazon here).
This is a lovely metal cutout set that you can use one cheese, deli meats and vegetables like carrots:
This is a very sweet set that has a variety of shapes, including individual petals to decorate dishes.
It even comes with extra decorations that you can add in your bento boxes.
This mini mold makes cute little shapes for tiny onigiri (rice balls).
You can make bento with mini rabbit heads, star shapes, flowers and little bear heads.
A three set of rice ball shapes. These are medium sized and some with three different shapes.
You can make rows of hearts stars and bear heads…. aren’t they cute?
You can make the shapes as simple or as decorated as you like. Most people like to make the onigiri shapes and decorate them with Japanese nori (dried seaweed paper). I don’t have any special seaweed shape punches, so I’m stuck cutting everything out by hand, but you can get seaweed shape punches on Amazon.
I have a couple of cute Japanese egg moulds and just wanted to quickly show you how the eggs turn out.
The key to making the shapes in these moulds is to peel them when they are still relatively warm and immediately lock them for a few minutes. Make sure to place the eggs straight up in the mould and squish them down with the top. Don’t worry, the eggs won’t break apart.
To make a nice little bento, you can fill the box with some rice, cut the eggs in half to show the cute pattern with the yolk and add a few cherry tomatoes for colour.
If you would like to get some Japanese egg moulds, you can find them on Amazon.
Natto is a Japanese food that will usually make people scrunch up their faces and say “eew”. It’s fermented soy beans that have a very thick sticky consistency. It also doesn’t help that it’s also quite pungent.
I personally love natto and strongly urge anyone to try it at least once in their life. If you would like to know why, check out some of the health benefits.
In most countries, you can find natto in Japanese or Asian supermarkets. They will usually be found in the frozen food area.
When you open one up, you will find two little packets along with the natto. The small yellow pack is a type of mustard and the brown liquid is a sauce. The sauce will normally have a slightly sweet flavour…. which I personally don’t like, so I replace this sauce with standard Kikkoman soy sauce.
I also add chopped seaweed for extra health benefits, as mentioned in a previous post “How to Make Ramen Healthier“.
Throw in some chopped green onions for a bit of zing and mix furiously. This will make the natto very sticky and oh so delicious.
Eat it on its own or place it on top of steaming hot rice. It’s a filling dish that’s very healthy for you and olny costs a couple of dollars to make!
Ramen, the glorious instant noodles that come in hundreds of different flavours and types, are not exactly the healthiest meal option but certainly delicious to have every now and then.
As a way to make these meals a little less guilt inducing, you can easily include any number of healthy add-ons that are very good for you.
Tofu is very high in protein, calcium and iron.
Enoki mushrooms have a mild flavour and are very high potassium, iron and fiber.
Green onions are very high potassium, iron, magnesium and fiber.
Seaweed (also known as “wakame”) is a fantastic addition to any dish, especially ramen.
It’s very high in calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin C.
Throw everything in with a simple pack of ramen and you’ve instantly added incredible amounts of vitamins and minerals!
*I forgot to mention that you can also add a sliced clove of garlic to add a little more zing to the broth!*